The man turned off the lights, I sat in a cave full of darkness with the group. At age eleven, I listened intently to the man’s spiel….
I was lucky in life not to experience this deep of a darkness again until the age of almost thirty. But this time it felt as an infinity black to the eyes, and the darkness was inside me… and all I could think of is my eleven-year-old self being alone in a cave.
No one really talks about what you will go through when someone you love and care about dies.
As humans, we want to be supportive, positive and caring…
No one actually says, “This next year you will experience some of your darkest days…ever.”
And IF they did say that to you, you’d think of them most likely as a heartless jerk…
But I’m going to tell you there will be many dark days, not just in that year but unexpected days throughout your life. Most importantly, I’m going to give you the most constructive ways to deal with these feelings and continue to allow you to find peace in your dark moments.
First, I’m going to state the popular five stages of grief. But when I do this, I’m going to explain when you might be feeling things and the realism, in hopes you understand you indeed are not alone.
Stage 1: Denial
I consider this shock more than denial.
It is normal to think your loved one might call, walk through the door or after a night of sleep, wake up and hope the last days were part of a crazy nightmare.
Stage 2: Anger
After my dad passed away, because of his past smoking and the aggressive emphysema, I suddenly snapped when my brother had asked my sister to stop by a gas station so he could pick up a pack of cigarettes.
Up until that moment I was the one not drinking, I was remaining calm and collect as we figured out tombstones and burial ….
But in this moment, after the layout, my poor brother felt all my wrath bare down on him in less than a minute.
Feeling angry at God or blaming someone… all normal…
(Just make sure you apologize later, and realize it in fact this is the angry stage…)
Stage 3: Bargaining
Once someone has passed, there isn’t a lot you can do to bring them back, too bad we aren’t in a comic book…
Bargaining is part of the association with the guilt…
You will most likely begin to question and analyze every moment leading up to that moment…
With my grandpa, if I just got over to my grandparents’ house ten minutes earlier, I could’ve administered CPR until 911 got there.
The “what if” will taunt you and honestly, there is just no way around it but tread through it.
The fact is you can’t blame yourself; but the fact is you will doubt and regret every action you made up until that moment.
Stage 4: Depression
The depression hits hardest after the funeral has taken place and everyone else around you continues with life as “normal.”
You will feel like you need to move on, you need to function in the world; But your thoughts and feelings eat at your soul, blanketing light.
This is when my methods of dealing with the loss of the love one will be most beneficial.
Stage 5: Acceptance
People often ask, “Does it ever hurt any less?”
My answer is, “It never ever hurts less, you just figure out how to cope with the hurt in a different way.”
I think this statement can’t explain it better to anyone after losing a love one.
How to Heal:
What happens when your re-live stage four around holidays, birthdays or triggers from letters and past possessions?
I’m here with comforting suggestions that work.
To some this will sound obvious and to others it will be the worst thing I could suggest.
The Truth is most times you go to cemetery it will make you face stage five again.
Writing can be a release of your emotions, a personal way to connect to your love one, and a door to keep their legacy alive for generations.
Write about your memories
When you are on stage four, or even stage five, one of the best things you can do is keep tabs on the times you’ve shared with your love one.
Think… in generations to come, your love one won’t be just a picture or name in a family tree because your shared who they really are.
Write A Letter
When the holidays, birthday or major life event become hard to cope with their absence write them a letter.
Explain to your love one how you feel and why you miss them.
For those with a religious background, I strongly advise practicing it heavily during your darkest hours.
It will give you some light and comfort.
Rather if it’s a professional or grieving support group, if you feel better when sharing with others, you should choose this route.
Sometimes there is a lot of unfinished business and a professional can help you sort through the pieces, giving you an in-depth perception on your feelings. Don’t be hesitant to take this route. Your mental and emotional health deserve it.
The speaker at the cave asked through the darkness, “Put your hand in front of your face… can you see it?”
I could not see that part of me was still there, but then the lights came back on… never forget you have a light that will eventually switch on through the darkness too.